Tag Archives: toddlers

The minor heartbreak of growing up

This morning at about 6am, my 2 year old woke up and called me. It was way too early for her to be up but she wanted “up” so I took a chance and brought her back to bed with me.

She hasn’t slept with me in the morning since early December when I stopped letting her nurse in bed with me for an hour. It was our last nursing session of the day. Since, she has been set against sleeping with me in my bed, even when I kind of wanted her to (especially when it was too cold in the apartment last week).
However, this morning she willingly came into bed with me, started pulling up my shirt…and then I think she kind of realized she couldn’t nurse. Like that part of her life was really over. She laid there and pet my boob for about 10 minutes and fell back asleep against it.

The amorphous “they” say that growing up is a long series of letting go. It’s tiny fragments of a heartbreaking odyssey.

I wanted to be done nursing for a long time, pretty much after month 8 I was ready to move on. But my daughter loved it so, LOVED it. And I had a hard time taking away the one thing that had been such a constant source of comfort from the moment she drew breath. It was nutrition, security, a sleep-inducer, a coping mechanism for sickness, and a reset button for emotional distress. It got us through take off and landing ear popping and kept her quiet during concerts. It put her to bed every single night for 2 years. I said I was going to quit after a year, but when she turned 1, there was NO way she was going to let me. I said I’d “revisit” the issue at 18 months, but even then, she still needed it at bedtime and during the night sometimes. At 2, we started trying to put her to bed without it, but she still needed it to stay asleep in the early early morning hours.

I nursed her for 27 months, 2 weeks, and a day.

It’s probably fitting that our last time was on the bed that my husband and I had in college, the one he first told me he loved me on, which is currently living in my in-laws blue guest bedroom. I didn’t know it would be our last time, but that’s probably for the best. I think I was half asleep anyway.

It’s the end of a chapter. Even if I never really enjoyed nursing as much as I thought I might, I’m so glad I did and I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making it this far.

And I’m proud of my little girl for growing up, even if it’s sad letting go.

Eating Out Midterm Warning

My husband and I, we have honed our skills, over the years, at eating in restaurants. We can occupy a table in a wide variety of places, three star and no star, of almost any ethnic sway, and hold our own. We have cultivated a pretty nice eating out technique and I think we’d be welcome customers in almost any establishment. A long time living in big metropolitan areas, plenty of travel, adventurous tastebuds, and a shared interest in trying new things has taught us a great deal. Not only are we pretty good at eating out, we enjoy it as well.

Well, our toddler is bringing down our Restaurant grade point average.

We went out tonight because for SOME reason our building shut the water off on our floor from 3pm to after 8pm, without warning. Cooking was out of the question. We went down the street to a friendly little Chinese place that always seems delighted to have children. They normally are very sweet to our daughter. But after tonight I think maybe they’ll reconsider that.

Things started off well, but then one thing let to another, and all of a sudden she was throwing chopsticks on the floor. The waiter brought clean chopsticks and handed them to her and she PROMPTLY threw them to the floor!

Appalling. I nearly left her with the bill.

I had to tell her that we’re graded as a TABLE. This is like a group project. And she’s bringing our GPA down. Not cool.
I tried to explain that if we don’t pass enough tests, we won’t pass the semester. And if we don’t pass the semester, we won’t be allowed to take Restaurants classes in the Spring. We’ll have to wait until Summer and retake Restaurants 101: Food Courts and Coffee Shops all over again. And frankly, mommy and daddy passed that decades ago with FLYING colors.

Someone needs to think of the good of the group and start doing their homework. I’d like to work up to 2 star sushi sometime this decade.

I would like to check one bag and one child please.

We’re getting ready to remove ourselves to our holiday residence at my in-law’s house. On the way, I’ll be stopping briefly in Chicago. I’m very excited! There’s a lot to do before we leave. My daughter and I head out on Friday, my husband the 18th, and the cat, sadly, has to stay home this year. Poor cat.

I didn’t bother decorating since we’re leaving so soon, but I did put up some christmas lights. A certain kid loves them, asks me to turn them on a lot. I usually ask her to do something for me and then I’ll turn them on. That’s where we are these days, EVERYTHING is a negotiation.

I’m worried about the airports and the cars, the new beds and the restaurants. She’s a different kid since we last went anywhere else, she understands more, but her patience is maybe a bit less and she’s far less containable. I’ve been so very lucky with her on airplanes that I’m starting to fear that the other shoe is about to drop. Will this be the trip where TSA has to pry my 2 year old from a plastic tub? Will the passengers on this flight be staring at me with the “oh god, make it stop” faces? Will this be the trip where my ipad battery dies the moment we get into the car?

All these very real fears of parents all over haunt me.

As much as non-parents like to believe that a) travel is just for them and b) all children can be brought down from the throes of meltdown, I have some bad news for them. Kids go places. Especially on the holidays. They have every right to be on the plane as any other ticket holder. (The logic that some adults have that adults are worth more than kids baffles me.) Kids have complex and shaky emotional scaffolds, they haven’t learn to repress, delude, and compensate through years of turmoil and boredom like adults have. If one prefers to see it in a positive light, they are more honest. Loudly honest. So, not all bad behavior by kids on planes can be stopped with any simple procedure. If the parent isn’t even trying, that’s one thing, but we like to hear our kids scream even LESS than strangers do. Trust me.

Anyway, I’m hoping I can negotiate my way from here to there with my 2 year old. I have an arsenal of stickers, apps, videos, and snacks with which to bargain. And if all else fails, I suppose I could tell her Santa’s watching…

Cats in the walls

My husband told me about this dream he had where this orange tabby cat, Cindy, from one of our kid’s books was living in the wall of our apartment with her kittens. I thought this was funny and our daughter was right there so I told her about the dream.

I might have made a mistake in doing this because now my daughter keeps asking about Cindy and if she’s in the wall (“see-see waah?!”).

I have explained in the best way I can about dreams and how this was just an imagined story, but about fiftyeleven times a day I have to restate that yes, daddy had a dream about Cindy living in the wall and it was just a dream, no, she’s not really in the wall, but yes, it’s a funny story. This seems to give her a satisfied laugh and then she moves on for about 20 minutes.

I wonder if she understands what I told her about dreams. She seemed to have a glimmer of recognition when I told her what they were. I bet she has pretty interesting ones. I bet they feature a lot of cats too.

Home again

Now that the party’s over, summer’s over, the “adventures at grandma’s” are over, we are back home in Montreal. We dragged ourselves, our 190 lbs of luggage (avec birthday gifts), our cat, my violin, and my daughter’s little carry-on that she refused to carry-on through a couple airports, a bus, and a subway yesterday. The cat probably had the worst of it. He didn’t even get to use the iPad.

My daughter spent most of the evening revisiting her toys, most of the night upset about her molars, and most of this morning unpacking her new toys. I was VERY curious to see how nap time would go, and here’s the result:

She went down for a nap without ANY NURSING or ANY CRYING for the first time in her life.

It only took 2 years.

I pretty much talked her into it. We got home from the playground and I just started telling her how we were going to go get her Paddington bear and lay down and it was going to be awesome and Paddington was tired too…
I just did not stop talking. I laid her down in her bed, tucked her bear in with her, rubbed her back, and kept whispering “you are very tired, you and Paddington, you both want to take a nap” and things like that.

She gave me this terrible look like she was SO offended/disappointed in me and put her head down. Closed her eyes. Fell asleep.

Ten Minutes.

I emerged from her room to my husband sitting on the sofa with his laptop (read: my husband in his natural habitat) and literally took a bow.

He golf-clapped.

Maybe it’s good to be home?

The Overtired Monster

Nessie: A handful of sightings. Overtired Monster: Millions served. I saw it last Tuesday.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being the parent of a small child is battling the Overtired Monster (OM). You do everything you can to avoid welcoming this creature into your life, but you still wind up, one way or another, face to face with this unpredictable and annoying demon.

You try to get home for that nap or to bed on time, but things happen. Suddenly, you are on a bus or in the car and your sweet little one transforms into this beast who whines and moans, throws things, issues sudden and ridiculous demands, gets upset at the slightest provocation, screams and cries, scratches and kicks, refuses to sleep, and will not be appeased. For some reason, this monster prefers public locations. Maybe it’s afraid of what you’ll do to it without witnesses?

I think all people with babies and little kids know about the Overtired Monster. What I wanted to address today was the horrible misinformation about the OM among people who don’t have kids or haven’t had them in quite some time. You see, there seems to be the consensus out there that the OM DOESN’T EXIST or that if they do, that they really are “not so bad.” This is very troubling! I have been told things like “wow, your child really behaves like that” or “she’ll sleep when she’s tired” implying the non-existence of the OM. Also, “just let her fall asleep then” or “we need to do several things before you can put her to sleep” which mean that they do not show sufficient fear of the OM’s terrible wrath.

Since I continuously fight to banish the OM from my life, it is alarming to me that those around me could be so reckless, so cavalier, about this subject. Go ahead, go say “Overtired Monster” in the mirror three times! Let’s try to keep my kid up an extra two hours tonight! Naps? A luxury! She can nap later. I need to make all this noise while she’s sleeping.

It’s like they don’t know!!

Maybe the former parents repressed the memory like a traumatic event? Maybe the non-parents think it’s just a conspiracy like bigfoot? Well, I’m going to tell you that the Overtired Monster is real. And fierce. I might not survive. So, do everyone with little kids and babies a favor and learn to fear the OM like we do. The life you save may be your own.

Wrap-up: The Julia Trip

We were in California for three whole weeks and yet, now that I’m home, it feels like it was only a few days!

We did a lot of cool things, my daughter and I, and I got to know Julia’s toddler too, which was wonderful. But of course Julia has a job that seems to think she needs to come in EVERY weekday for a LONG time. Can you believe that? I wanted to call them up and be all “do you KNOW that I’m here?!”

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about some of the fun things we did, so consider this your full report.

Weekend 1: We rode the little steam engine train at the park in Los Gatos and my daughter also had her first Carousel ride!

The Wildcat Railroad is a real miniature steam engine train. It chugs, it choos, it gets filled with water between trips.

Never too early to learn to keep your heels down…

We also went to the pool and some various playgrounds where our kids tried to dominate the sand toys of other children. Also, the both of the kids in the back seat going places? So fun. We pretty much had to sing OVER the crying.

Week 1: During the week, I played with my daughter at nearby playgrounds during the day and sometimes at Julia’s parents’ house. The weather was pretty amazing: cool in the mornings, warm-getting hot in the afternoons, mild in the evening, and cool at night. I could see myself in this!

Weekend 2: Julia’s mom had a really nice luncheon under the pergola. Not only was the food incredible and gorgeous (like eating in a catalog, people, Gary and Elaine would have been thrilled) but I am hoping to use the phrase “luncheon under the pergola” a lot more in my life. Also, Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread…sigh. I think we also went to the pool and played outside and the kids got very wet at the playground by Julia’s house. I can’t remember. They got wet frequently. They’re toddlers.

borrowing Julia’s sunhat

Week 2: I had trouble keeping my kid on Julia’s kid’s sleeping schedule, she seemed to drift to her home bedtimes despite the time difference. I spent a lot of time taking her to the playground, the grocery store, and trying to ignore the rising heat. We went into San Jose twice on the very convenient 81 bus where we visited the San Jose Museum of Art, the St Joseph Cathedral (for 55% of a mass), and ate really delicious vegan curry-things at the Karma Cafe. The Museum of Art had some really nice interactive programs. You could grab a shoulder bag with art supplies in it to take with you through the museum (my daughter colored) and there was also a pin-making exhibit as part of an artist’s “political campaign” piece. My daughter and I both made pins. There were extra-large “paper dolls” of famous politicians onto which you could put magnetic cut-out clothes, that was fun for her too. My favorite was the exhibit of drawings from Sandow Birk’s “Divine Comedy,” a re-imagining of Dante’s work in modern settings, mostly NYC and LA.

When it finally hit 100 F towards the end of the week, I was ready to take back all the nice things I said about California weather. Even so, 100 there is not like 100 here, it was less humid, they are better prepared for it, so it doesn’t seem quite SO bad, but my Scandinavian blood was hitting a mild simmer. At some point I made Julia a cherry pie, but we were trying not to turn on the oven, so many salads were made for dinner. I might blog about them at some point.

Weekend 3: Since I was leaving on Monday, we crammed a bunch of things into our last weekend. First, we took the kids to the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum. It was fantastic. It had so much to do for all ages of kids, everything hands on, and each of our children found something to fixate on for long periods. I told Julia that they should just install Closed Circuit TV’s, lock the exits, and put in a wine bar where you can watch your kids on screen.

We had Julia’s parents over for dinner on the patio, Julia made some terrific food, also very photogenic (why didn’t I photograph the food?). My daughter finally started going to bed at something approaching the house bedtime, a day before we were leaving…

And we went to the beach! It was an abrupt change of weather, like I knew it would be, but wow. It really was. I forget all the time how much of a differential it is–it was very cool and refreshing 60 F. The kids got their toes wet, took naps, ate fish and chips with us and Julia’s parents on the warm sand. I sunburned my knees. Julia sunburned her nose. The kids were spared due to our diligent sunscreen applications and hat placements and re-placements. Go us!

My daughter and I had lots of good times and I’m SO glad I went. It was a trip that was a long time coming. I will miss the beach, the pool, the playgrounds, the fruit, Trader Joe’s and other fine supermarkets, and Julia’s dishwasher. But most of all, I’ll miss the little things like the kids playing in the bathtub together, learning stuff from each other, the singing of Russian children’s songs, making Julia dinner, and seeing her every night after the kids go to bed. If teleportation existed, you better believe we’d be kicking back almost every night around 9pm PST/12 EST with some vodka-limeade. Since it doesn’t, I hope that our continued electronic correspondance tides us over until the next time I can afford/bear the thought of flying across the continent that obnoxiously gets in the way of our mommy-fun-time.

Thanks Julia, miss you more than dishwashers…

Flying with “Small Children,” aka an Albatross of Your Own Likeness

the plane back from the caribbean dehumidifying

Or How Uncomfortable Can You Stand to Be?

Baby Center re-posted their list of tips for flying with kids on my facebook newsfeed last night, just after I had arrived home from a whole day of air travel. You can see their “article” here:
“Flying with Small Children,” Baby Center, Oct 2011

This article, while containing many informative points on the technical requirements of traveling/booking a flight for yourself and an infant or toddler, seems to have been written only by people who don’t actually do this traveling. They have clearly done the research on the subject on many airlines’ and TSA’s website, but most of this information is known by the common air traveler, even if they haven’t taken kids before. I guess it’s nice of them to put this together in case you DIDN’T know, for instance, that you have to bring ID for your kid to the airport (duh) or that you have to like, um, tell the airline you are traveling with a lap child even if you’re not technically buying a seat for them…

The List of “Important Questions to Ask Before You Fly” on page 2 is HILARIOUS.

First of all, if you actually called your airline and asked even half of these, they would probably hang up on you for being a huge waste of time. If they were exceptionally nice, the call would end with them whimpering “can you please just go read our website?” The questions themselves are just priceless and show an astonishing lack of foreknowledge of how air travel works now. Let me give you some examples:

“Will you require proof of my child’s age and identity? If so, what proof is required, and when do I present it?”
No, you can just bring any infant through an airport without any paperwork, we trust you not to be trafficking babies implicitly because you look so disheveled you have to be a mom. If you have to ask an airline this, they are probably going to flag you for further inspection before boarding. Not to mention “when do I present this ID?” Um, anytime you are asked for it? You will probably be asked for it a lot? Have you been through security lately? Just assume you need to duct tape it to your kid’s head.

A better question would be simply “what proof of ID do I need to bring for the kid?” since sometimes a passport is necessary, and sometimes a birth certificate will do, and SOMETIMES you have to have both plus a letter from the child’s other parent, a copy of their visa, and their hospital bracelet, and a DNA sample.

“Are bassinets available on the flight? When should I reserve one?”
I’m sorry, you are flying coach on a commercial airline? What do you think this is? The 60s? Nothing is available anymore. At this point, if you want a bassinet on a plane, you should probably look into buying your own plane. (Okay, okay, yes a minor number of international flights may offer them, but they have to put in you the bulkhead row and if the flight is super full, as they all seem to be these days, this is going to be tricky and you’ll probably have to pay more).

“Do you allow preboarding for families with small children? If so, will there be a preboarding announcement or do we have to ask at the gate?”
Look, there is pretty much ALWAYS an announcement. Even if there isn’t, can’t you just go up and hand over your boarding passes when they start boarding the plane regardless? It’s not like they’ll turn you away if you have a small kid. Do you really need to ask this ahead of time? Plus, I question the logic of having people with small kids board first. Unless you are desperate for precious overhead bin space that seems to run out somewhere in the 60%-of-plane-boarded range, you really don’t want to be the first people on the flight. You want to enjoy that gate lounge for as long as they’ll let you. Can you let everyone else board and then come get me? That should be what you ask the gate agent. As little time spent contemplating how much you miss having enough space to put down your tray table, the better.

“Can we bring our stroller on board?”
Have you seen the aisles of a commercial aircraft? See above bit about running out of overhead bin space. Even if they SAY you are allowed, you better believe they’re going to make you gate check that shit.

“Do you have diaper-changing facilities on the aircraft?”
Oh, you must mean the tray table!

“Do you offer children’s meals? What’s included? How far in advance should I order one?”
Are you serious? They don’t even offer adult meals anymore! Unless you are flying long-distance international, expect that all they will have is a snack or sandwich available for purchase at outrageous expense. Bring your own damn food, there’s your answer.

“Are diapers, formula, baby food, or other amenities available on board?”
Bwahahahahahahaha….. I really want to be there when someone asks a flight attendant before takeoff this question after having been informed by someone at Customer Service that “sure, we stock all kinds of baby supplies on our flights.” No. The answer is no. Unless duty-free carries diapers now…

“Can my spouse or loved one get security clearance to accompany me to the departure gate if I need assistance?”
Does your spouse have a ticket? Then no. Would you like to buy them the cheapest ticket possible for that airport on that day? Then, have them accused of being a terrorist because they are flying one way on the cheapest possible flight and you and their progeny are going off on another plane? That sounds like fun for the whole family. If you think you need assistance from the check-in desk to your gate, you are NEVER going to survive this whole air-travel thing. Stay home.

“Do you offer assistance with maneuvering through the terminal when making connecting flights? How can I arrange for that?”
Okay! Finally a good question! A useful question! Short answer: you can probably pay for it. Or wait around for a golf cart person to come collect you and some other disabled person from your flight. But at that point, your toddler will have run to the nearest moving beltway, so what’s the point?

I have half a mind to write my own list of Air Travel with Small Children Tips, not that I’m an expert by any stretch. I have done it quite a bit since my daughter was born, but only between 3 countries, and I never take strollers or plane-seat car seats or anything, so I can’t help you there. To be honest, much of this information about car seats on flights confuses me as I have NEVER seen anyone use one. Even the tiny babies are held, the older kids get their own seat once they hit two years old. Almost everyone is trying to avoid paying anything extra for kids under 2. When September rolls around and my daughter can no longer fly free, I may never go anywhere again.

So I guess I better get these Tips written out soon before I forget. In the mean time, this blog has a pretty amazing post on the subject:
“Tips for Flying Alone with Kids” at Aintnomomjeans.com

Breaking Sleep Update: June 2012 Edition

Record the time and date, people, because my daughter did the most amazing thing two nights ago at 9:42 pm.

I had nursed her to sleep as usual, slipped oh-so-carefully away from her in the bed we’re sharing, crept to the door, exited the room, and just before I had closed the door most of the way, she woke, sat up, and just sat there for about 30 seconds. Then, she flopped back down and went to sleep.

Just like that.

I was so excited. I don’t know if she knew I was just outside the door, but she could not see me. I have watched her fall asleep while I patted her back in her crib, but never seen her fall asleep on her own without me being there. It was like magic. I could get used to this. Is this how children who go to bed normally are? Am I so far out in the sleep battleground that I can’t even see what the surroundings looks like?

She did not repeat the feat tonight, so I’m free to write about it here. I have this odd superstition about exclaiming her sleeping accomplishments too much for fear that they will never be repeated. When she slept through the night for the first time since that fluke at 5 months sometime back in March, I don’t think my husband and I even said the words out loud. The conversation went something like this:
“When did she wake up last night?”
“I didn’t get her at any point before I went to bed.”
“Oh. So she…”
“Omg I think so..”
“We should probably not even talk about it.”

And I didn’t even tell my friends for a couple months that it had even been happening once in awhile. Now, it’s not something I can count on at all, but I’m getting familiar with the concept. I’m getting used to the predictability of putting her to bed and GASP! not having to go do it a second time 40 minutes later.

We’ve come a long way since February when I was sure that all was lost and she was waking up 24 times a night. She’s still got a lot of sleep milestones ahead that most kids her age have passed long ago. She’s very much marching to the beat of her own durge-playing drummer on the sleeping (and talking) front.

But at least she’s marching in the right direction.

Blood, Sweat, Tears, Sand, and Water: Just Another Day at the Playground

On the way over to the playground today, my daughter, now 21.5 months old, tripped and face-planted on the sidewalk, skinning her knee, scraping her chin, and worst of all, scraping her finger badly. She cried and cried. It was a pretty nasty fall for a little one unaccustomed to scraping injuries. She’s really more of a bruise kid.

Not having any band-aids (note to self: you are entering the phase of your kid’s life where band-aids should be added to the bag, so get on that), I fashioned a pretty useful temporary bandage from the ripped off tab of a disposable diaper. I am like some kind of Supermom, no? I should at least get points for that.

I knew we were going to play in the sand so I wanted to keep the sand (and dirt) out of her cuts. At the playground by Julia’s house, there is also a water feature with a central spout and three troughs and sub-basins that is pretty popular with the children. I knew it was going to be hard to keep my daughter’s hand out of the water in these troughs, but I thought if I kept some clean water from the spout in her sand bucket she’d be less tempted to go over there to get her own.

Well, playgrounds, if you don’t know, especially those with sandboxes or water-things, are something close to what anarchy might look like. I could write a lot more about the delicate social pressures upholding the rules of property in the absence of any real authority, vis a vis sand-box toys, but I will save that treatise for a later time. I will just leave you with a vision of all my kid’s toys running off with other kids and her picking up random stray toys only to have to give those up to kids who were heading home. Then, there was slide-traffic-flow issues. I told Julia tonight that the playground security roles seem to default to the parent of the youngest child in any multi-child interaction. There will be an occasional, “hey, watch out for the little one” called from a parent on the sidelines to an impatient 6 year old waiting to go up a climbing thing, but for the most part, it’s up to you to protect your own kid from older kids. The sun had made the slides a little bit hot, so that added to the hesitation of many kids to go down them.

There was a huge puddle from the overflow of the water feature that the kids like to walk/run/frolic through. I was fine with my kid doing that but I really didn’t want her to sit down in it. At this point she had sand up to her knees, clinging to her legs, sand all over her hands, and I had to sort of hold her under the water spout to get some of it off.

A few of the older kids were standing IN the troughs of water making all the little kids want to do that too. There was a brief flurry of parental reproaching and kids went back to taking each other’s buckets.

We went to look for some ducks and headed home. All’s well that ends well.